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Could 2012 see a third party challenger for the White House?

Campaign 2012, so far at least, is proceeding according to script. The President, as expected, is running for reelection and the GOP has begun the long and difficult process of selecting a nominee.

However, this year, the politics are far more unsettled. The voters are restless. They don’t like their choices, and most distressing, many having watched the endless gridlock in Washington, have started to lose faith in the nation’s public institutions. The

Read more: Could 2012 see a third party challenger for the White House?

The Rise of Gov. Bob McDonnell

Governor Bob McDonnell has been having an exceptionally good year. While most states are still grappling with budget shortfalls, layoffs and having to cut back on services, the Governor was able to report that Virginia had one of its largest surpluses in years. Thanks to Virginia’s typically tight fisted approach to government the budget year ended with $545 million still in the bank. It’s a remarkable feat. But that’s not all. While unemployment, nationally, just can’t seem to get below 9%, and

Read more: The Rise of Gov. Bob McDonnell

A lesson for Congress from the county school board

Ten years ago I was running for reelection to the Stafford County School Board and like most candidates for local office I was out going door to door. At the time the school board was having a serious disagreement with the board of supervisors on funding for the schools.

The school board wanted ten million dollars more than the board of supervisors was willing to give us. This kind of disagreement is not uncommon in local government. However, our debate had long since ceased being an exchange of opinion. Rather it had become a battle of dueling letters to the editor, acrimonious comments at meetings of both boards, and little, if any common ground. Of course, being on the

Read more: A lesson for Congress from the county school board

Are we in for another recession?

It’s not a depression, the economic situation in our country isn’t grave enough for that designation, but it could well be called the recession that never ends. 

Technically, if you go by the book, a recession is when the nation’s gross domestic product, the sum of all we make, produce and spend, declines two quarters in a row. By this definition the recession ended in 2009. However, with sluggish growth, high unemployment and a continuing decline in housing prices, it sure doesn’t feel like it. For many, the “recovery” is just a nice word they use in Washington. The reality

Read more: Are we in for another recession?

Obama, the economy and some lessons from history

Nineteen years ago, in the run up to election ’92, the Democratic Party, or so it seemed at the time, offered a weak field of candidates in the primaries. The stronger candidates were a former senator from Massachusetts, Paul Tsongas, and the governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. For many, as one Democratic pollster put it, “it was a throw away election.” No one, or so went the popular wisdom, could beat George Bush. After the U.S. victory in Desert Storm in 1991 his approval rating had soared into the 80 percent range. However, as we all know, George Bush lost that election and the reason why can be offered in a few words on a placard in Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

In 1992, going into the general election, while we were technically coming out of a recession, things were still slow, houses weren’t selling, and, most of all, 7.4 percent of the workforce was unemployed. In retrospect, compared to today’s economy, that doesn’t seem so bad, but it was enough to cost a sitting president his job.

Read more: Obama, the economy and some lessons from history

Just how serious is the Federal debt ceiling crisis?

The United States, for all the woes of our current economy, for all the worry we have about China eclipsing us as a world power, is still, going away, the world’s largest economy. We employ over 139 million people and generate a staggering Gross Domestic Product of $14.8 Trillion. These are encouraging numbers. But behind this massive economic engine is a government that is very close to defaulting on its own financial obligations.

If the government were a business, we might be able to work out a deal with our creditors or perhaps even declare bankruptcy. But that’s not an option. Our creditors are far too numerous, our debts too big, and as for bankruptcy, we can’t do that either. Even states hardly ever do that. In fact, only one state in our nation’s history, Arkansas, during the height of the Great Depression, has ever declared bankruptcy. For governments, it’s just not an alternative.

So, what exactly do we do when the debt ceiling, our own internal permission to borrow, runs out? The logical course might be to extend that limit and cover your bills. But that’s not the way this is playing

Read more: Just how serious is the Federal debt ceiling crisis?

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